Tools for branching scenarios and interactive storytelling

During the Sim Day sessions we shall look at Twine app, which is a free and easy-to-use online tool for creating ‘choose your own adventure’ text-based games. Twine, which offers both a desktop programme and an online browser-based tool, uses a simple block-based GUI which enables an author or instructor to map out a story with multiple branches, loops and outcomes. You can read more about Twine or our elearning blog.

Within the School of Humanities, Creative Writing students have used Twine to investigate a highly structured approach to storytelling, focusing on cause-and-effect rather than traditional prose. Medical students have also used Twine as a means to narrative enquiry. In one exercise, they were required to think of a clinical story from their personal experience which could have multiple outcomes and also impart some knowledge to the player.

Twine uses HTML, which means you can add images and video to your story if you know write the code. There are some Psychology based Twine games available to play. One of these is ‘Howling Dogs‘.

An alternative to Twine, is another free storytelling app, Inky. This is downloadable for Mac and PC. Like Twine, it offers a ‘choose your own adventure’ script engine, in this case entirely text-based. Using basic markup you can write a playable story which offers branching, looping and conditional choices. For example, the options chosen by a player can inform how the story plays out later in the game.

Inky offers a dual panel interface with the story script on the left and a gameplay preview on the right. The story can be exported and shared in a web version, which can be played directly within a web browser.

Inky software interface
Inky story writing dual-panel interface

Inky also offers potential for writing scenario based stories for Virtual Reality headsets. Inky has a plugin for the Unity game development platform, which makes it possible to import Inky stories into the platform and add 2D and 3D graphical elements.

Thinglink and Nearpod

What is Thinglink?

Thinglink is an online tool that enables you to tag 360 videos and images with other information, you create ‘hotspots’ and add content that displays when the hotspot is activated. This can be done in a web browser across any device and includes VR headsets where the trigger is directed by your eyes.

Uses for the tool might include:

  • Virtual Tours
    • Galleries/student degree shows
    • Open day virtual tours
    • Laboritory familiarisation
    • Access to difficult sites – virtual away days
  • Virtual Learning Objects
    • Language tours
    • Health and Safety
    • Navigating and understanding objects/buildings and environments

Thinglink examples

Bio Labs

Air Quality station

What is Nearpod?

Nearpod is a cross-platform and easy to use way to engage your students with interactive activities, connect them through collaborative discussions, and gain instant insight into student learning through formative assessments. Content can be either teacher led or used for self study. You can incorporate a range of information slides including text, images, videos, sounds and virtual environments (including Thinglink content) as well a interactions that help students to collaborate and test their understanding.

Uses for the tool might include:

  • Supporting the delivery of Face to face lectures
  • An audience response tool
  • A mechanism for delivering virtual environments and 36o content (Thinglink and 360 tours)
  • A virtual Learning Object

Nearpod Examples

Sim Day example

The respiritory system (includes 3d model of the respiritoy system)

Language Learning – the icecream shop